FINALLY!

Ken Hoffman finds a goldmine for every '80s Houston Wrestling fan

Jake the Snake/Instagram

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

I became a true Houstonian the first night I moved here from Phoenix. I pulled into a dump hotel on 610 near the Galleria, unhitched the 5-by-8 U-Haul packed with all my worldly possessions, and headed straight to the Sam Houston Coliseum for a night of Houston Wrestling.

The main event was the Sheepherders vs. the Fantastics in a tag-team cage match. It was love at first sight … of blood. I heard there was an expression in the south, if wrestlers wanted to see green (money), the promoter wanted to see red (blood). Who knows if that was true, probably isn't, doesn't matter.

Man, that was one wooly night. I grew up in the northeast, so the only wrestling I watched on TV was WWE (formerly WWF, formerly WWWF), and babyface stars like Bruno Sammartino, Pedro Morales, Bob Backlund, and heels like Macho Man Randy Savage, Larry Zbyszko, and the Wild Samoans. But I knew all about Houston Wrestling and Friday nights at the Coliseum from wrestling magazines. I couldn't wait.

I am a wrestling fan. I loved it as a kid, still do, even though it's changed, not sure for the better. Early on in Houston, I got to know Paul Boesch, the legendary wrestling promoter.

Ken wrestles with Houston Wrestling

Quick story about the time he blew up in a rage at me. I had a friend who worked for WWE up in Connecticut. He called one day and said, "We just signed Jake the Snake Roberts and he starts with us in two weeks. Well, Snake was the local champion in Houston, and that meant he had to drop the title before he left for WWE. It's was the unwritten rule in wrestling, if the champion was leaving a promotion, he lost the title on his way out.

Not the smartest thing I've ever done, I wrote in my little column, "Jake the Snake will defend his title Friday night against Dirty Dick Slater, and you can bet the ranch that Roberts will lose … because he's joining WWE in two weeks."

Boesch was so incensed that I gave away the ending to his main event, he had Roberts win the match. I changed the course of history! Two days later, when the match aired on Channel 39 (now CWB39), there was Roberts celebrating his win and threatening me to keep my mouth shut. I was scared to death, sitting in my underwear, watching on TV.

Do a YouTube search for "Jake Roberts threatens me." It's there. You'll understand why I was so frightened. Freddy Krueger in Nightmare on Elm Street had nothing on Snake Roberts.

I was hooked on Houston Wrestling, and Friday nights at the Coliseum became a ritual. But like many regional "territories," Boesh and Houston Wrestling was bought/forced out by Vince McMahon and WWE. Unlike other promotions, Boesch and his family (later lawyers) refused to sell the Houston Wrestling video library to McMahon.

For years, readers would ask, "How can I get tapes from Houston Wrestling? At long last, now.

Continue on CultureMap to learn how to get a DVD from Houston Wrestling.

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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